Early Detection of Visual Impairments

  • J. van Hof-van Duin
  • G. Mohn
Part of the Topics in the Neurosciences book series (TNSC, volume 6)


The immature visual system of human infants or animals is known to be capable of remarkable plasticity in response to functional or structural interferences with normal development. Experimental studies of the ontogeny of functional visual defects such as amblyopia or loss of binocular vision in the cat and monkey have led to the concept of the “sensitive period” early in development, during which the visual system is particularly susceptible to abnormal influences (1,2). Early visual deprivation in animals has been shown to result in behavioural, electrophysiological, and morphological neuronal changes which may lead to permanent impairments of visual functions. On the other hand, the very plasticity of the system often also allows reversal of the defects by appropriate treatment. In humans, the existence of a sensitive period for visual input restrictions, as well as for treatment of the resulting deficits is generally accepted, although its time course is still largely unknown. Early detection of visual impairments is therefore important not only for diagnostic purposes, but also in the interest of optimal therapeutic effect.


Visual Acuity Visual Field Preterm Infant Visual Function Optokinetic Nystagmus 
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© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht. 1987

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  • J. van Hof-van Duin
  • G. Mohn

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